Why is Ireland again a mendicant? an address delivered before the Philo-Celtic society, at the Cooper Institute, in the city of New York, March 4th, 1880

Why is Ireland again a mendicant? an address delivered before the Philo-Celtic society, at the Cooper Institute, in the city of New York, March 4th, 1880

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Why is Ireland again a mendicant? an address delivered before the Philo-Celtic society, at the Cooper Institute, in the city of New York, March 4th, 1880
Shea, George
Thomas Kelly
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Great Britain -- Politics and government ( lcsh )
Ireland -- Politics and government ( lcsh )

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University Of South Florida
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ADDRESS OF THE HONORABLE GEORGE SH'EA, BEFORE THE PHILO-CELTIC SOCIETY. MARCH 4, 1880. DR. SAVAGE, the Chairman, on introducing Chief Justice SHEA as the Orator of the occasion, said : As we are met to relieve distress, it is but natural that we should revert to the causes which create it-to the origin of constant wretchedness and periodical, if not perennial, famine in various parts of Ireland. The cause of distress, the cry for relief, arises from a system which is the grnnd grievance of Ireland-a system equally disgracing and disgraceful to all parties to it-to England and to Ireland. Chiefest grievance of Ireland is that land system, the terrible responsibility of wliich on the landlords is powerfully indicated by Stuart Mil1, when he says that "the Irish tenant is the only human being in existence who has nothing to gain by increased industry, and nothing to lose by increased idleness." I have no doubt Chief Justice Shea will address himself to the causes of Irish distress, and I desire to bespeak for him the careful and, if necessary, the patient of this great audience. The theme is of absorbing importance at present, and whatever the orator of the evening may have to say will be, in accordance with his student habit, the result of diligent research and careful consideration; and will reach in its effective benefits beyond this society and city. On coming forward, the orator of the evening received a warm ovation from the vast audience numbering between three and four thousand persons, and among whom were many of the most distinguished citizens. 3


4 ADDRESS BEFORE THE PHILO-CELTIC SOCIETY. ADDRESS MR. CHAIRMAN, AND MEMBERS oF TIIE PHILO-CELTIC SocrnTY OF NEW YORK: I esteem this an important opportunity. I feel that I should speak at this time, not to you, but for you, to the People of Amer ica--of whom we constitute a part. MR. CnAIRMAN: Why iR freland, in this our time, again stand ing as a mendicant in the gateway of nations? Are not the products of its own soil Rufficient to sustain a population equal to its own?* Is not that population capable of tilling that soil, and keeping it cu1tured to a reasonably productive degree? Why is a race so universal, so prosperous, so provident in other The products of Ireland, even for the year 1879, were as follows : The Registrar-General's returns for 1879 state, that the total acreage under all crops is 82,217 acres Jess than in 1878, the figures being for last year, 5,204,005, and for the present 5,121,788. It appears from the following summaries that, compared with 1878, the incrM,Be in the acreage under wheat, in 1879, is 3,467 acres ; barley, 10,689 acres ; beans and peas, 569 acre!!; and beet root, 5,944 acres; and flax, 16.181 acres. In oats there is a dec1ease of 82,633 acres ; bere and rye, 1,813 acres; potatoes, 4,091 acres; turnips, 15,577 acres; cabbage, 6,068 acres; carrots, parsnips, and other green crops, 930 acres ; vetches and rape, 2,532 acres ; and in meadow and clover, 5,456 acres. The returns of live-stock for 1879, compared with 1878, show an increase in the number of horses and mules of 9,916; asses, of 230; cattle, of 81,974; and poultry, of 75,802; and a decrease in sheep of 77,245; in pigs, of 197,409; and in goats, of 1,172. The table shows the extent of land under crops for each county in 1879, and that Wex ford has in proportion to its area (575, 700 acres) by far the largest of any county in Ireland. The figures are, in acres-1879, wheat, 7,540 ; oats, 40,011 ; barley, 51,326 ; bere and rye, 24; beans and peas 4,359; potatoes, 22,680; turnips, 17,191; mangel-wurzel and beet root, 3,471; carrots, parsnips, and other green crops, 1,135; cabbage, 1,464, vetches and rape, 215; flax, 1 ; meadow and clover, 59,894; total extent under crops, 209,321; fallow or uncropped amble land, 274. In the table showing the number of Jh-e stock in each county in the presentyear we find the following returns for Wex ford alone for 1879-horses, 27, 718; mules, 1,363; asses, 8,188; cattle, 122,090; sheep, 146,097; pigs, 60,654; goats, 6,500, and poultry, 578,056.-G. S.



6 .ADDRESS BEFORE THE PHILO-CELTIC SOCIETY. habitual neglect, and I am compelled to add, abuse of that country's sources of independent national wealth. It is a part of and should have been treated as a part integral, of the British dominions. A government owes the duty of protection even to a conquered country, held as a province-and no interest that could be esteemed Irish has ever been protected or fostered in the south or west of Ireland by British polity. The contrary must be, nay now is, accepted by properly informed persons, as the truth. The time and the inducements for denial and conceal ment are passed, even in England. The minds of Englishmen are opening to the reception of this There is a class in England-and that class you can see rapidly growing in both parties-which will, and for no partisan purposes, see that jus tice is done to the natural and political rights of Ireland. If it be only to the selfish end that the Empire itself may no longer be impaired, by the continuance of much that has ceased to be nec essary and was always impolitic, England and Ireland must have a better understanding of each other. That is, England must at last try to understand Ireland-if they are to continue together. "I never could understand Irish politics," an eminent English statesman once said to me. I answered him that after so many centuries of uninvited guardianship,. had your Parliament not better retire from the special trust, and allow Ireland, for a season, to manage her own strictly loc;al affairs, leaving your imperial Parliament free for imperial concerns? You did it, with great benefit to Ireland, during the last years of the last century." I told him an anecdote of the late Washington Irving, who at an early day of his career entered New York mu nicipal local politics. Mr. Irving was certainly an intelligent man; but he could not comprehend New York local politics. He compared them, in a dissatisfied, but perhaps not unreasona-


.ADDRESS BEFORE THE PHILO-CELTIC SOCIETY. 7 hie moment, to that tumultuous spot in our East River, called "Hell-Gate." Now, Mr. Irving acted as a sensible man. He retired from what he could neither understand or manage. He was the better for it-and New York went on and has prospered. MR. CHAIRMAN : Ireland has been for the past two years, and is now, attracting, conspicuously and respectfully, a most appreciative attention in England. Its ancient history: its sup; gestive antiquities, marking the march of an early civilization: its archaic institutions: and the historical value of the ele mentary principles of its abolished Brehon laws: have served to introduce its annals and literature into the famous English seats of learning. Oxford our knowledge is increased by the erudite labors of Sir Henry Sumner Maine, who with the impartiality of an impersonal justice, and the critical accuracy and philo s ophical reflection which give such great value to his writings, relates in bis early history of Institutions, the pro gress, principles and sudden abolition of the ancient Irish or Brehon la,v. And more recently comes a very careful, clear,. and almost satisfactory history of the Irish Parliament, written by Mr. Hume Williams, an uncier.graduate 0 Trinity, Cambridge; and it is worth remarking thaL this essay received the univers ity prize. Had the concessions Gf Mr. G1adstone and the more outspoken and pregnant thoughts of Mr. John Bright, heen entirely dissociate from what is al ways a malign atmosphere-that of an impending electoraL canvass-I should have been enabled to esteem their friencllJ" professions at a more serviceable value to the cause of a legitimate relief to Ireland-a relief from those embarrassments which tend to keep her down, and which have abridged her own; native ability to lift .herself to the level of an honest and


8 ADDRESS BEFORE THE PHILO-CELTIC SOCIETY. dignified self-support. But, while I do not criticise nor con demn, as I surely do not in these instances, I may be permitted to regret that Ireland has not yet the full benefit which should, and must, flow to her from such powerful auxiliaries. The way is opened now to the English mind. Keep it open! It is in the power of the People of England to cause to be redressed those wrongs which the Parliaments of England have not only themselves perpetrated, but permitted denationalized native Irish Parliaments to inflict on Ireland. The people of England cannot but appreciate that Ireland is held as an integral part of the dominions of Great Britain ; and they must concede that the Irishman is entitled, of riglit, to the immunities of a British subject; that the principles of the revolution of 1688, which settled the doctrines of the British Constitution upon ancient foundations, gives equal liberty to all subjects under the English Crown, and do not tolerate that the local and essential interests of the people of one pait of the British dominions shall be struck down or rooted up to serve the rival interests of engrossmg monopolies situate in another part of the general dominions. And when the people of England as they must, that this would be a wrong; such a wrong, as by the very infliction or permission of which government would have :abandoned its lawful function of a protecting government, and have assumed that of the destroyer ; let the people of England ll'eflect that they shall, by that admission, declare that the Irish distress of this day is not an indirect or unnatural consequence .of the policy which has destroyed Irish trade ; destroyed Irish .manufactures and Irish commerce ; leaving that country depending upon the poor remnant of its annual crops, which are .alone left in thP, hands of the actual cultivators of the soil. 'Government means protection. If we were a,ble to protect


.ADDRESS BEFORE THE PHILO-CELTIC SOCIETY. 9 ourselves we would need no government. But when at unpro pitious seasons, like that which now spreads famine among the tillers of the soil and the dwellers in the towns of Ireland, the soil yields no more or not sufficient to feed the inhabitants of the country, then the landlord is bankrupt and the honest laboring tenant a pauper. A nation, and such a nation as Ireland is known by tlie civilized world to be, should be able, at such a time of agricultural failure, to turn to her manufactures, and see what can be sent to foreign markets ; and to buy with the product of her native skilled industries, from overflow, ing granaries of other parts of the world, suflioient to readily supply the temporary deficiencies of her own soil. But, sir, the manufactures and commerce of the south and west of Irelaml are traditions of the past ; and Ireland, therefore, stauds at this moment, without special fault of her own, not a buyer, but again a beggar, supplicating aid from foreign nations. MR. CHAIRMAN: vVhy this i's and why it should not be, are the themes to which I will address my speech. I shall have ueed for a patient hearing, and allow me to bespeak it for my self. It will be remembered by many persous present, that a few years since, Mr. James Anthony Froude came to this country on a literary tour. His was the common spectacle of a well-educated English gentleman and scholar who misconceived the case of Ireland. The like fatality attends many of the same class who claim to understand this country. Now, the answers which I am to give before you, sir, to the two questions which I have ju t stated, as to why Ireland is as she is : and why she should not be so ; are those answers which I would have been pleased to have given to Mr. Froude himself in a respectful, conversa-


10 ADDRESS BEFORE THE PHILO-CELTIC SOCIETY. tional manner. These answers, I think I am at liberty to say, are what occur to many Americans who have looked into the subject, and are what they think upon the issue. We, Ameri cans, may be right, or we may be wrong, in our opinion; but the premises from which we deduce our conclusions, are those which are found in English sources of information, and are of a character that is regarded authentic. Mn. CHAIRMAN : The map of the world shows us that the geographical position and the geographical relations of the Irish island, as a great center of commercial intercourse between the old and the new worlds, are not of less advantage and com petency to Irela!ld's grandeur and wealth, as a distinct nation, than those of England are to England for like national develop ment and superiority. Ireland's many navigable rivers, her numerous bays, her natural harbors, are more in number and more capacious than those of England, and not subject to the tidal incapacities which daily impair and irregulate its ports of entry. Candor must admit that for those facilities of naviga tion Tcquired in modern times for the establishment and main tenance of a great commercial nation, Ireland is the equal, and if independent, even as a British state-I mean independent as our own states are of each other-she would be a fo1midable commercial rival to the Seotch and English trades. These signal maritime resources are said to have attracted at an early era the attention of the Romans. The Danes, later in time, seeking climates more genial than that of their own country, often descended upon the coasts and fixed permanent residences in many eligible parts of the island. Thus Cork is said to have been founded by the Danes in the 9th century, when they over ran those parts of the kingdom-and Dublin and other towns


ADDRESS BEFORE THE PHILO-CELTIC SOCIETY. 11 had a similar origin. These people, like their fellow-country men who invaded the British isle, and like the Saxons, who settled it, were enterprisi11g adventurers; seeking homes fol' themselves in a foreign land, and not seeking provincial depend encies to add to their own native kingdom. Lord Littleton, in his history of Henry II., after relating an unsuccessful attempt to conquer Ireland by Magnus, King of Norway, in the begin ning of the 12th century, puts the view, which I intend here after more fully to open to you, in these words : If this entel'prise had been wisely conducted, and the success had been answerable to what the divisions among the Irish princes and the inclination of the Ostmen in favor of a monarch, from whose country most of them originally came, seemed reasonably to promise, it would have erected, in Ireland, a Norwegian kingdom, which, together with Man and other dominions of Magnus full of shipping and good seamen, might, in process of time, have composed a maritime power capable of maintaining itself, perhaps forever, against that of the English, and disputing with them the sovereignty of the sea. It may, indeed, be esteemed most happy for this nation (Eng-land) that no King of Denmark, or of Norway, or of Sweden, nor any prince of the Ostmen, s e ttl e d in Ireland, ever gained an entire dominion of that isle, for had it remained under the orderly government of any of these, its neighborhood would have been, in many res pects, prejudicial to England." This was no hasty opinion. Littleton had given twenty years to the mere revision of that work before its publication ; and what I have read is the result, which, after so mature reflection, be drew from the relative merits of England and Ireland for national development. .A. like opinion had fearfully impressed the councils of Elizabeth, and was productive of a fatal course toward the ma terial prosperity of Ireland. The minister of that queen advised, in view of the unsettled social and political condition of that country, this : Should we exert ourselves in reducing Ireland to order and civility, it must soon acquire powe r, consequence and ricl!es. The inhabitants will thus be alienated from England; they will cast themselves into the anns of some foreign power; or, erect themselves into an independent and separae state. Let us rather


12 ADDRESS BEFORE THE PIIILO-CELTIC SOCIETY. con n ive at tlteir clt'.sorde rs f o r a w eak and di s ord e r e d peopl e can never att empt to d e tach tlwms e lves from tlt e crown of E n gland." Engli s h public men, like Sir Henry Sydney and Sir J obn Perrot, both of whom understood the affairs of Ireland and the disposition of its inhabitants, as did, afterwards, the Attorney General of King James, expressed indignation at s uch inhuman and selfi s h maxims, set in action against a people whose generous inclinations were easily won and attached by simple kindness. "Yet this doctrine," adds the historian, found its way into the English Parliament. Sir John Davis, the able Attorney General of King James I., of whom I have spoken speaking of the native Irish of that time, and expressing surprise and admiration at the absence among them of crime, wrote : "I dare affirm that for the space of five years past there have not been f2_un

ADDRESS BEFORE THE PHILO-CELTIC SOCIETY. 13 William of Normandy was an adventurer of a different m clination from the Roman, the Dane, the Swede, the Norwegian, the Ostmen, of whom I have spoken to you. By the ambition and p1an of Wi1liam the Conqueror, and by what is described as the Norman Conquest, England only changed a monarch-her nationality, individuality, and, as we would say, genius, re mained unchanged and vital. And though, for a time, the principles of freedom, inherent in the unquenchable spirit of England's early Saxon constitution, were often superseded or set aside, still on each occasion when oppression necessitated again and again the positive assertion of the rights of the subject-whether at Runnymede, when the armed barons of England demanded the declarations and protection of the Magna Char ta ; or, in 1688, when John Somers recalled and settled upon its ancient foundations the Constitution of England ; or when, in 1829, the great body of the Irish people were eman cipated from religious disabilities ; or, in 1832, when the rotten boroughs of England were abolished ; or, in 1858, when Parliament was finally opened to subjects of all religious beliefs-it was not Progress which was made. It was the ancient prin ciples of her constitutional liberty which were declared anew, and restored! But, Mr. Chairman, Ireland presented to the Norman invad ers, for her, a different political aspect from that in they chose to regard the British isle. To these Normans, under HenrY. II., and all their successors, Ireland pre sented the idea merely of a desfrable accession to a feudal crown i and the success of that kind of invasion, not being a conquest, necessarily involved the loss of national independ ence, as well as national separate existence, to the native in-


14 ADDRESS BEFORE THE PHILO-CELTIC SOCIETY. habitants. By that invasion under Henry II., the principle of independent existence and individual growth was destroyed for Ireland ; and no sense of common interest, no talents and fortune of the soldier, no wisdom and virtue of the sage, could be or has yet been found to bring and hold together the disso ciate elements of that people. Had the invasion by the Nor-. mans not taken place, it has been more than once insisted upon, the disjected members of the Irish nation must have come together; as, under like circumstances of civil strife and internecine and provincial warfares, other and greater nations, as France, for instance, have done. The clans of Ireland had not yet fused into a single and a :finn nation. The Ireland of that time has been aptly compared to the condition of Gaul before the conquests of Cl.ovis. Order would have succeeded confusionliberty would have emerged from a disorder which makes obedience to law necessary-and strength would have arisen from the severity of such a discipline as that through which the peoples of the provinces of Ireland were passing. But so benignant a course of events, which seem from historical exam ples to have been natural and expectant, were prevented and defeated. How? Ireland has been occupied, not conquered-;-occupied without any settled oi proposed statesmanlike plan of subjugation on the part of the invaders; and, therefore, it chiefly is, that, throughout the entire duration of her subjectiveness, she has disclosed an opposition peculiarly belonging at once to "servi tude and rivalry.'' By nature a worthy commercial competi tor of England-by fate a drudge and underling. The bounty of Nature has been her curse-and her ability and natural equality the procuring cause of her continued subordination. The feudal economy, as a matter of course, did not, for these


ADDRESS BEFORE THE PHILO-CELTIC SOCIETY. 15 reasons, enter into possession of Ireland. Indeed, it was not attempted to be introduced. That system had one merit which would have meliorated the condition of the native Irish : for it bound the actual landlord to the lands which he wished to pos sess. So the system, which would not allow other than uominal rents from occupiers and tillers of the soil, could not have come into use there, because of its repugnance to all legitimate no tions of a feudal society. But the descendants of these Normans in Ireland choose, in the absence of the trammels of that politi cal system, to consider their inheritance as a mere possession which they may farm for their personal advantage, regardless of the actual tiller's natural rights. They did not, as a class, regard their inheritance as a sacred trust which a truer nobility obliged each of them to individually superintend for a mutual benefit. They managed their landed interests as simply sources of revenue ; leasing by agents even among those Irish people themselves, from whom the right and actu:;il possession had been by force taken. A mercenary spirit, of course, from the first arose and actively governed their relations ; and thus came into being that withering liabit of absenteeism, to which can be traced one of the great sources of Ireland's general misfortune. Some of the most notably powerful families be came as it were native to the soil, and have never forsaken it. These Norman families, and their adherents, grew to be really the ruling class in Ireland. Their local feuds, which ever spring up in such exclusive circles, too readily incited by con tagion the Irish to similar disturbances. The Geraldines, of Munster and Kildare ; the Butlers, of Kilkenny ; the De Burghs, the Birminghams, the De Courcys, the Fitzgerald branches, and other families, alike in origin, though at enmity among themselves, early renounced allegiance to the English


16 ADDRESS BEFORE THE PHILO-CELTIC SOCIETY crown, and became, as the saying is, more Irish than the Irish themselves." Had they remained Norman and loyal to their own English Lord Paramount, the native Irish chieftains and people might not have been involved in many of the disas ters which befell them in common. In vain the English gov ernment endeavored to stay the influences which induced the Norman gentry to set themselves up as the Irish of the Irish. Statute after statute was passed in England forbidding the Engli shry of Ireland to make use of the Irish language, to intermarry with Irish families, or assume Irish habits; and, at length the penalty of death was threatened for such offences. But all proved to be in vain. Fresh English colonists were then sent over to Ireland to replenish and reenforce the English element. These were quickly absorbed, and likewise lost in the Irish predilection. It was surely a phenomenon ; and one with which no political wisdom or skill seemed able to contend ; and the exertions, which were designed to oppose, only proved to increase what it was hoped to allay. Those measures of send ing new recruits to the English ele!nent introduced an additional source of social and political turmoil between the English: con were created between the ''English by blood and those by descent." The Norman-Irish, who were then the governing class in Ireland, and remained so until the dissolu tion of the forrn of nationality in 1800, strengthened themselves from time to time-as their own special convenience suggestedby alliances with some of the native Irish provinces, who thus unfortunately often identified the interests of their principali ties and people with a domineering, excluding, and aristocratic caste, at enmity with England, and which, though among, were not of, and had few if any sympathies with, the people and the national welfare of Ireland. It was this aristocratic, domi-


ADDRESS BEFORE THE PHILO-CELTIC SOCIETY. 17 nant class, of foreign origin, though intensely Irish in tastes and predilections, which always constituted what we are accustomed to call the native Irish Parliaments-a congregation of men, with some legislative functions, which existed from Sir Edward time down to the day in 1800 when, at one stroke, it extinguished itself. You see, sir, that while these were, in a sense, native Parliaments, they were not, in any proper sense, .National Parliaments. Indeed, as years. went on, they grew less and less representative of any national Irish spirit or national interests ; until, in that memorable year 1800, when the union between England and Ireland was finally c

18 ADDRESS BEFORE THE PHILO-CELTIC SOCIETY. nothing so objectionable as that which supplied Ireland with its local legislative puppets. The Parliament, at no time, represented the PEOPLE OF IRELAND. That people were disfran chised : some laboring under religious disabilities, and all ignored as a source of political power. To describe any padiament, brought together as the Irish Parliaments were, as a representa tive body for.the People, would be an absurdity. The House of Lords, either dependent or expectant on the favor of the crown, were, as a sequence, powerless in the lawful business of the state. The House of Commons, yet in 1780, continued simply to fulfill the main purpose of its original institution or inauguration under the plan of Poynings, the English Deputy, which was made in the reign of Henry VII., by direction of that monarch. It was simply to supply seats for the creatures of the government. Of its three hundred members, who at the time of the union constituted the House, two hundred were the nominees of persons under the control of the English Government; forty if not fifty were returned by constituencies of ten persons, and several boroughs had no resident electors, and some only one. Henry Grattan and Robert Holmes inform us that two-thirds of the representatives were returned by less than two hundred voters. Those immortal three hundred, elected by less than two hundred voters, were returned by elections every eight years only. Now, Mr. Chairman, let us not allow it to escape our minds that these parliaments were never, in any degree nor in any legitimate sense, independent. .A.t some periods of their exist ence they did little more than register the mandates of English policy. England permitted that they should have the appearance, but never allowed them the reality of independent, legisla tive power. In the reign of Henry VIII. religious intolerance


ADDRESS BEFORE THE PHILO-CELTIC SOCIETY. 19 was advisedly, as a politic scheme, inteijected among those other malignant circumstance8-baneful to Ireland, and serviceable to the policy that would keep her people at variance, and so continue her subjection. It cannot be denied that England, neglectful of the duty which she owed to a country that she in sisted upon holding, let these native DENATIONALIZED PARLIA MENTS dominate, as they recklessly chose, over the political and social state of the Irish themselves ; and that England was careful ever to reserve to herself the right, unquestionable, unlimited and omnipotent, to dictate the course and regulate the trade of Ireland. The members of this close parliamentary corporation, elected to their places as I have described, and drawing the means of thei1 maintenance from offices, from rents, and from the product of the toil of others, quite naturally despised personal labor, and despised all people engaged in it. So long as they were lords of the land, and gentlemen capable of bearing arms, the arti san, the tradesman, the operative, even the merchant, were, in their traditional sentiment, equally ignoble and contemptible. This pretentious and enervating disposition fell in with the establishecl commercial designs of England-a special mauufacturing and trading nation-in its plan for the suppression and 1 destruction of Irish trade. Irish Policy is Irish History, and I," said the present Earl of Beaconsfield, in 1868, "have no faith in any statesman who attempts to remedy the evils of Ireland, who is either ignorant of the past, or will not take lessons from it." .Let us, sir, then,. search into the Past-and receive its lessons. Mr. CHAIRMAN : The greatness of England herself has come of liberty and from commerce. To secure these she proclaimed


20 ADDRESS BEFORE THE PHILO-CELTIC SOCIETY. and fought her most desperate wars; to secure these she main tained her assumption of the Mistress of the Seas. The com merce of England undoubtedly at first sprang from, and in its growth and prngress may have been intimately connected with, her free government and free institutions. But, sir, the commerce of England is a source of greatness depending more upon external auxifoJ,ries-which are directed so as to oblige other countries to accede to her policy-and less upon her own inherent and insular strength. England does not possess, in herself, an independent greatness, coming from ex_ tent of territory, and fertility of soil, and consequent population. Her colossal power rests mainly on external commerce; and com merce, sir, is not absolute, but comparative and dependent. The arts of spinning wool and manufacturing the yarn into cloths, though introduced into England as early as the Roman era, and though in the middle ages that manufacture was sornew hat equally spread over all of that land, yet perhaps its con spicuous importance in giving shape to the commercial policy of England did not begin to attain potential influence until about the end of the 16th century. Then, and since then, England has made that, and later in time, one other staple fabeic, the absorbing objects of its protection and fostering care ; even preferring one part of its dominions to another in this regard, and even one of its own towns to another. The history of English policy tell us that the great object of England was its own c!ommercial ascendancy. Many of her dependencies, from situation and pro ductions, were :oaturally excluded from rival competition, and 'vere free to consume the productions of English industries, and to return, in compensation, what British needs and luxury might requi1e, or what British navigation might diffuse into other markets, either in the original state, or with the increased


ADDRESS BEFORE THE PHILO-CELTIC SOCIETY. 21 value imparted by her mechanical ingenuity and art. But, sir, Ireland in each point of view-in its vicinities, insular advan tages, soil, climate, fruits of the soil, and inhabitants-Ireland ever presented the apparition to English manufacturers of probable and successful competition.-i

22 ADDRESS BEFORE THE PHILO-CELTIC SOCIETY. incentive of those glorious examples of what Free States, in ferior to her in natural advantages, could achieve by commer cial daring. The energizing and fructifying constituents of in dependent existence seemed to be marked in her structure in bold characters by nature. Such, sir, was Ireland : and such she seemed to England itself. l\fR. CHAIRMAN : The manufacture of woolen articles in Ireland was very early a special object of England's commercial jealousy, and at length hostility. The two chief geographical advantages of Ireland, in a commercial point of view, are her proximity to our country and to the West Indies : and, also the excellence of her natural harbors, which are so easy of access, so capacious, and safe. All this England appreciated, and so it came about that in 1(363, Ireland was deprived by leg islation of that colonial trade. Then came the laws which re quired that articles (the exceptions were few and not impor tant) which were brought from the English colonies to Europe, should first be unloaded at English home-ports; and in 1696, Ireland was entirely excluded: for it was declared by law, that no goods of any kind should be impor&ed directly to her from the colonies. The intended results were accomplished. The natural courses for Irish commerce were closed against her trade ; it perished, and her shipping ceased to exist. Nearly all industrial occupations would have withered in any other country under like adversities. But Ireland, sir, was vouchsafed, within herself, an unusual space of peace ; and then it was that those natural features, which I have spoken of, drew to her shores some of those wonderfully artisans, the fugitive Huguenots of France. Thus was brought into Irish industries the manufacture of poplin and it quickly grew to be


ADDRESS BEFORE THE PHILO-CELTIC SOCIETY. 23 a prominent feature of merchandise in Dublin. The Irish themselves were aroused by the exhilarating activity of those emigrants, and they turned their attention once more to the raising of wool. Sheep-walks began to be multiplied, and fac tories of woolen goods began to be established and to prosper. Lord Strafford, an evil spirit to Ireland and to his royal master, and who himself was once well inclined to Irish industries, had bis attention rec alled, in 1638, to the small beginnings of a cloth trade there. He promised the manufacturers in England to prevent its development, "lest," as he wrote it, "they might beat us out of the trade itself by underselling us; which they were a..ble," he adds, to do." When the cattle trade was by a single blow, in 1680, finally annihilated from Ireland, the wool manufacture there began to increase, and the quality of Irish wool was recognized as the most superior in the market. An industrial enthusiasm was spreading throughout the country. The English weavers took alarm anew: this time with an earnest, determinate purpose ; and then came the customary process of destruction. The commercial influence was at that time potent in the councils of England. The House of Lords represented to the king, in these words, that the growing manufacture of cloth in Ireland, both by the cheapness of all sorts of necessa ries of life, and goodness of materials for making all manner of cloth, doth invite your subjects of England, with their families and servants, to leave their habitations to settle there, to the increase of the wool e n manufactnre in Ireland, which makes your loyal subjects in this kingdom very appTehensive that the further growth of it may greatly prejudice the said manufacture here.:' The House of Commons also prayed the king '' to enjoin all those you employ in Ireland to make it their care, and use their utmost diligence, to hinder the exportation of wool from Ireland,


24 ADDRESS BEFORE THE PHILO-CELTIC SOCIETY. except to import hither" [to England]. William the Third's answer to these demands committed him to the policy which brought the wool manufacturers in Ireland to naught. Thus it was, that, in 1699, the laws prohibiting the Irish from exporting wool, in a rnanufactwed state, to any other country whatsoever, were enacted. It was an avaricious consummation! Had not the English Parliament and king inteivened in protection of the alarmed woolen manufacturers and traders of England, the Manchesters and Liverpools of this day, in all their plenitude, might not be ; and competitive seats of the enriching woolen trade and of commerce would have been seen at this hour supplying the ma1:lrnts of the world from the towns and maritime ports of the south and west of Ireland. Mu .. CHAIRMAN: The curious .visitor to the city of Dublin could recently, and I presume can now, find out that portion of the southwest quarter of the town called The Liberties." He will be told that there, at the time of the Union, and for a few years afterwards, a scene was presented not unlike the industrial part of Manchester at the present day ; and that full forty thousand persons were once employed within its precincts. He may inquire, where are now the silk and woolen and hosiery factories that once flourished in Ireland? The people there will scarcely guess what he is asking about. Possibly some one will conduct him to a certain house in the Coombe, Dublin, and show what was once the Weaver s' Hall, like one of the guild halls of the famous towns in Belgium. It is now stripped of its splendid tapestries, the edifice itself sinking into decay, and occupied by tenants of the poorest class. Go into other towns of Ireland, in the South and West, and you see that those


ADDRESS BEFORE THE PHILO-CELTIC SOCIETY. 25 manufactures no longer exist; and that the 80,000 artisans that once prospered are among the things that have been. England, indeed, from even as early as the time of Poynings, had carried on, through its Irish Parliament, active and destructive hostility against the lucrative and growing manufactures and trade of Ireland whatever they chanced to be. MR. CHAIRMAN : When the cattle trade, the manufacturers and commerce passed away entirely from the South and the West of Ireland, her fate as a nationality was doomed. Nothing was left to maintain her numerous population, in those parts, but what might be gained from the mere tillage of the land by its landless peasantry. I have said, sir, that I would call upon English authority chiefly, to support my relation of those things concerning Ireland. In closing this division of my address, I call attention only to what the British Premier said, in 1785. He said: "That the constant object of the policy exercised by the English Government in regard to Ireland, had been to debar Ireland from the enjoyment and use of her own resources, and to make her completely subservient to the interest and opulence of Britain, without suffering her to share in the bounties of nature, in the industry of her people, or making them contribute to the general interests and strength of the empirea restraint as impolitic as it was oppressive-that Ireland was shut out from every species of commerce; she was restrained from sending the produce of her own soil to foreign markets ; and all correspondence with the colonies of Britain was prohibited to her, so that she could not obtain their commodities but throngh the medium of Britain; that this was the system which prevailed, and this was the state of thraldom in which Ireland had been kept ever since the revolution of 1688." That minister, sir, desired to inaugurate an opposite and beneficial policy ; but other counsels were fo11owed, and the old scheme continued. MR. CHAIRMAN : This seems to me a proper opportunity where I may give a short answer to a question, which often


26 ADDRESS BEFORE THE PHILO-CELTIC SOCIETY. arises m honest and intelligent minds in this country. It is frequently asked. I think it worth while to detain this audi ence longer rather than leave it unanswered now and here. Why are the inhabitants of the North of Ireland so thrifty, so fully occupied with profitable business-in a word, indus-ffrious; and why, in observable contrast, are those who inhabit the South and West, unoccupied-in a word, inert and th1iftless? I will deal with it as if a very proper question, and one to be respectfully considered. This, sir, is my answer. It was the peculiar good fortune of those northern towns to have established a stap"le manufacture 1vliicli did not, and lias not, corne, at any time, into competition witli the articles wliich .England had made legal monopoli e s I allude, of course, to the fabric called linen. Toward the close of the last century there occurred an event, which augmented, and almost overshadowed in the commercial policy of England, the importance of its venerated and cher ished woolen fabrics. America was growing more and more serviceably important to the wealth of England ; and we be came essentially so, in 1793, when Eli vVbitney's invention made ''Cotton" king. Yes-it was the new importance thus given to cotton, which, perhaps, left unchecked the linen trade of Belfast ; or, at least, diverted and has kept English capital and enterprise fully occupied in its woolen, cotton, and iron interests, and thetrade which accompanies with its golden track. The linen manufactures of the North of Ireland were accorded free tmde. They were, also, dfrectly subsidized by England from lie1' public treasury. The people of the North prosper (and I rejoice that any part of Ireland is allowed to prosper by her own native intelligence, skill, and industry), because their businesses were fostered by the English Government-the people of the South


ADDRESS BEFORE THE PHILO-CELTIC SOCIETY. 27 and West, for the reasons which I have given are scattered and crnshed, and many in idleness and wretchedness. I have now, Mr. Chairman, given what I hope are not im pertinent answers to the question, why Ireland is m ore or less exposed every season to the visitation of famine in times of un usual dearth, and why at such times the South and West are particularly so. A..nother illustration is often presented in the people of Scotland. I have heard people frequently refer to Scotland as another disparaging and admonitory contrast to Ireland. That contrast is, indeed, apparent. Yet it furnishes Ireland with a most effective special explanation and vindication. Permit me, now, sir, to ask a question. I have been answering them. What was the material condition of Scotland herself on the eve of her own union, in 1707, with England? Was it not a similarly beggared people, and was not extei;isive destitution its own chronic state? I relate these, which are surely historical truths, in no to the people of that day in Scotland. It was no more their own fault than the state of Ireland is to-clay the fault of the Irish people. Agriculture in Scotland had been discovered to be entirely inadequate to the support of her own population. The want and poverty, which are now so severe, but always comparatively temporary, in the Ireland of our time, constituted, at that period and previous to 1707, the usual condi tion of Scotland. The remedy proposed by Scotch statesmen of that epoch was : to develop and establish an industrial life for Scotland, with which to supply the deficiencies of her agri cultural resources. The habits then of the Scotch people were inveterate, and opposed to those habits required by a strictly


28 ADDRESS BEFORE THE PHILO-CELTIC SOCIETY. industrial community. The needs of the Scotch demanded free trade and, thereby, their manufactures liberated from the op pression of the general restrictions of the English commercial policy. England demanded an implicit union, as the condition of the coveted free trade. The project of such an independent union was, of course, threateningly unpopular in the English factories. But that union, or identity of political being, was, on account of the impending hostility of France at that moment, thought to be a necessity for the peace of England; and so, notwith s tanding the clamors from the English manufacturers and traders, that compact of union with S?otland was made. Scotland then, and thereby, gained those commercial conces sion s to which all her national prosperity is attributable. That prosperity alone ultimately reconciled the popular will of Scotland to the union-a union generally esteemed by the Scotch as a partial sacrifice of their nationality by the fusion of legisla ture s Sir, the extreme and usual poverty of Scotland fled be fore the advance of her industrial pursuits-revived her hopes of a prolific future ; and, with the extension of commerce, and the discipline and benign example of continued and profitable employment, began those thrifty habits which now pervade and characterize the prudent and happy people north of the Umber. MR. CHAIRMAN: We have seen that English Union with Ireland brought to her no like commercial or other concessions. They were denied to her. Her Parliament had sold her. Her foreordained ruin was, at last, complete: and final, until other days and better policy restore to Ireland the use of those things with which the God of Nature has so richly endowed her. Of course the conduct of England toward Ireland was not a spe cial animosity to that country. England acted in this respect


.ADDRESS BEFORE THE PHILO-CELTIC SOCIETY. merely as she had, before the union in 1707, acted to Scotland, and as she had attempted to act, after the peace with France of 1763, toward the .American colonies. It was that attempt which drove those colonies to vindicate their rights as British subjects, by our declaration of independence, and finally to entirely sepa rate from the English crown. These, sir, al'e the answers which .Americans think pertinent to the questions which many are accustomed to put concerning the state of Ireland. I think myself entirely at liberty to say that it is the impression among intelligent .Americans, that England has not been faithful to the duties it assumed when it undertook to govern Ireland. They think that England has not used the trust to Ireland's advantage, but, on the contrary, has used it, whenever necessity or convenience required, for her own indi.vid ual benefit. Th is is the case as it appears to u s .And I am quite conscious that no unkind purpose or predisposition has brought us to this conclusion. MR. CHAIRMAN: .A few words more, and I am brought to an end. They arc concerning the land and land tenures in Ireland. It is said that the fettility of the soil of Ireland is amply sufficient to provide for the population, and more. But, sir, seasons must occur when the crops fail, as in other land s Yet, must failures occur to such an extent as to throw a whole nation into the dangers of famine? The cottier is said, by Lecky, to be a unique product of the want of a legitimate system of land cultivation in Ireland. I presume he is entirely correct. The cottier has no permanent interest in the soil, and he is left with out security for his future as to the land he cultivates. He is without capital. He is of little advantage to himself, and often a burden to the landlord. I, sir do not know how it is in Ire-


30 ADDRESS BEFORE THE PHILO-CELTIC SOCIETY. land ; but in these United States, each, the landlord and tenant, would run away from the other. Is it possible that either tenant or landlord, as their state is described to us,wishes this sort of mutual bondage to continue? I can perceive how in the con ditions of trade of which I have been relating, the mass of the inhabitants became cottiers in most parts of Ireland, as it was not possible for ther n to gain a livelihood as agricultural laborers or in the mechanical arts in their own land. There must be a remedy for an evil which so fearfu\1y oppresses all concerned together. Whether it is more to the general prosperity that land should be held in large tracts, or whether a peasant-proprietorship, as it is called, better conduces to the wider and greater advan tage of the actual tiller of the soil, have, fot ages, been the subjects of careful and curious observation and inquiry. These are settled, as such problems alone can be settled, by actual experiment. In France a bountiful nature yields abundant harvests : but only to the skillful industry of the peasant proprietor ; and temperance and frugality preserve the resnlts of those harvests to them who own and till the lands. I have witnessed in company with one of the most intelligent members of one of the princely houses of France, my friend the Marquis de Tallyrand-Perigord, who is with us this evening, the operations of peasant-proprietorship in that country. I know not from what such remarkable comfort comes. Whether from the system itself, or from the individual intelligence and industry of the tiller himself: but I remembered, as I admired it, bow I wished that Ireland might have the privilege of trying a like system, by .. which each man tilled his own land for bis own benefit. Yet, Mr. Chairman, the people of France, be it remembered, are not indebted for their riches to the fruits of the soil alone. France


ADDRESS BEFORE THE PIIILO-CELTIC SOCIETY. 3 1 has varied industries. Its manufactures can always supply the voids wherein the harvests may fail. France imports little-it exports much. Hence it is rich. It draws into its own bos om the wealth of other nations ; and hence its people were able in 1872, at once, and without embarrassing them in the usual cours e s of their agriculturnl and mechanical productiveness, to pay off the immense indemnity which the German Empire had laid upon France. The problem of small farms, and an intelligent, temperate and industrious class, whose special business it shall be to till the soil themselves for themselves, and not temporarily at the will of a dominant proprietor, may be regarded as already solved in two of its aspects: First, that small farms, cultivated by those who own and actually occupy them, constitute one of the great bases for a people's material prosperity, and an essential basis for a provident plan, which assures that the people, from whose labor comes national wealth, shall be at least well fed, well clad, and well housed. But, sir, instances arc recent, and not wanting in number and applicability, to prove that peasant-proprietorship is not a comprehensive provision and entire protection against the deficiencies of seasons of short crops and barren years.* Manufactures, sir, are demonstrated to be necessary, which at such times can be exchanged for food. And now, in this season of suffering and common humiliation to Ireland and England, is it not, indeed, well for England her-* Besid e s the allusion which can b e made to Cilicia, we can point out that while these pages are passing through the press, intellige nc e comes from France, that the extraordinary cold winte r in Europe has so severely injured grape-vines there, that it is feared this y ear's crop will again be very poor. 'fhe vin e s in Burgundy, more especially in Champagne have suffer e d unus ually. But no di s tress will follow such a failure, for France has her numerous and varied manufacture s by which to have every need promptly snpplied.-G. S.


32 .A.DDRESS BEFORE THE PHILO-CELTIC SOCIETY. self to try to understand Irelp,nd and Iris hmen, and to endeavor to redress the wrongs of the past ? England has the power ; let her's be the glory! The enlightened opinion of the world is against her in this matter. I have reason to know that the T opinions of many di s tinguished and influential Englishm e n are against her in this regard. A.n era of good feeling seems to be springing up. Forbid it not! It is from Englishmen of noble characte1 and natio11al influence that conciliatory and redressing advances should come. Until such justice is done to the natural and political rights of Ireland, as an integral part of Great Britain, it will not do to impute to any part of her inhabitants, especially those whose industries England has willfully destroyed, the sin of voluntary lazine ss, or to a populace who have acquired many of the habits of unemployed persons, a vagabondism _not intentionally theirs. That the Irish of the South and West are not naturally lazy, but most zealous patient and laborious, the United 8tates can especially and gratefully acknowledge. In-


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